Behind the Scenes: Who’s Afraid of Mark Waid’s Webcomics?on April 30, 2012 at 12:01 am
Recently, print comic writer, Mark Waid, announced the launch of his webcomic site, Thrillbent.com. Reaction from the webcomic community has been kind of strange. The go-to guy to get a quote about webcomics these days it Scott Kurtz and they shaped it like this: ‘PvP’ creator warns webcomics makers over Mark Waid’s ‘Thrillbent’ The angle seems to be doom and gloom. Why? As my friend, CB at the Webcomic Factory said, “Why is everyone so goddamn upset? We should be out in Times Square celebrating. We just won WW2.”
Yes, indeed. What the Hell is everyone’s problem? First off, Mark Waid’s a really nice and talented guy. He’s someone that goes the extra mile for the fans and does quality work. Shouldn’t the webcomic community embrace an individual like this? He worked for big publishers, he didn’t run the big publishers. I interviewed Mark back in the day on my old TV show. And even then, Mark was a pretty humble and gracious guy and he was already working on big print titles then.
Second, this is the inevitable result of the death of print. Where did you think all the creators were going to go? They weren’t going to just retire. They are jumping to their own sites, Kickstarter or wherever they can so they can continue to create. The Internet has freed them, as it has freed the first webcomic creators. Also, the word on the “street” (ie, the people I know who work in comics) print work is drying up. Everyone is beginning to hop on the webcomic train.
The biggest piece of news is that Marvel has jumped head first into digital. This marks the countdown until Marvel either scales back their print division or shuts it down altogether. Either way, it means the guys with money are finally beginning to see the writing on the wall. If they can wean their audience off of print, they can move them to another delivery system which requires much less overhead.
But what will this mean for webcomic creators? Nothing bad. Something good!
It means that whatever is left of the print comic, capes and tights crowd is going to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Internet. That’s right where we want them! The Internet is the great equalizer. The problem with print was always that comics were non-returnable, so whenever a retailer ordered your book it got stuck in the back as a constant reminder to never order outside the big publishers ever again. Retailers would stay away from indy comics and those of us in print know that struggle.
With webcomics, everyone is just a click away. And where would you rather go? The site containing comics you’ve read a million times? The guys that cost you a lot of money and now want to charge you some kind of fee? Or do you want to see free webcomics? Based on everything BUT capes and tights. Well, how about both? If they’re both free, that’s what’s going to happen. The only difference is, most readers get sick of capes and tights after awhile. So while the print comic book crowd will drift towards other webcomics, it’s unlikely that webcomic fans (who already have a high bar for entertainment) will drift toward pay capes and tights sites.
So we have a choice here, webcomic creators. We can look at this change with fear and fight it, as the print companies did when webcomics emerged. Or, as I will do, we can welcome Mark Waid with open arms. Let’s show him the ropes. (Hey, Mark, how about a link exchange? It’s what we all do. Gives you street cred.) The Internet is a big, unlimited place (until CISPA passes), so there’s room for everyone. There’s nothing to fear here. Mark and these other creators will bring in more fans and make webcomics something to be accepted. With that acceptance, one hurdle is removed not just for Mark Waid, but all webcomic creators.
So welcome Mark. See you on the web.